The restorative IV drip: a hangover cure from 'the dawn of ages'
By Adam Gabbatt , The Guardian December 30, 2014
Some people swear by the hair of the dog to cure a hangover. Some turn to greasy food. Others just throw up and get on with it.
A new trend could put all these dubious traditions to bed, however, as companies have sprung up offering IV drips to the stricken.
The IV Doc, which offers its intravenous fluids in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, is perhaps becoming the best known.
Launched in December 2013, it has treated “thousands” of people in its first year, according to CEO Adam Nadelson, who said the idea is based on “something that residents have been doing since the dawn of ages”.
Nadelson said that trainee physicians would often be on call at a hospital round-the-clock when completing their residency. They might only get a small, say six-hour, window to go and let off steam.
“For those six hours you didn’t sleep you went out and had fun with your friends. The next morning you were back on point 100%. A nurse would stick a small IV, get you hydrated back up and you were good to go.”
Now, however, one needs not commit to seven years medical training to feel that kind of sweet relief.
For between $199 and $250 anyone – that is, anyone who can afford to spend between $199 and $250 curing a hangover – can have the company send round medical personnel with their bulging bags of fluid.
Although the IV Doc website is keen to stress that they offer their drips for other things too – like general dehydration and food poisoning – Nadelson says most people call them for hangover treatment. The majority of customers, he says, are “affluent”.
“They’re hard-working individuals,” Nadelson explained. “They don’t have even a moment to step away from their busy schedules, have a few glasses of water and allow themselves to recuperate.”
“They’re literally flying from California to Texas to New York and in-between them flying back to California they’re stopping off with us because they just feel horrible.”
“They’re picking up clients at night, they’re trying to sell to them the next morning,” Nadelson continued.
“They’re busy. Busy, busy, busy. It’s time-sensitive to get to these meetings. And the service we provide, hopefully we can get to them within two hours’ notice.”
Unable to quite recreate this high-flying, fast-paced dynamic, this reporter instead drank a large quantity of alcohol over a short space of time, then summoned the IV Doc the next morning.
For $250, I received two bags of fluid – the ‘Revive’ package, which is billed as “for deathbed relief”. The solution contains:
130 mEq of sodium ion
109 mEq of chloride ion
28 mEq of lactate (pH balancer)
4 mEq of potassium ion
3 mEq of calium ion
Famotidine, a histamine H2-receptor antagonist that inhibits stomach acid production.
Odansetron, a serotonin 5-HT3 receptor antagonist used to prevent nausea
Ketorolac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug
“Alcohol inhibits the body’s anti-diuretic hormones, which help you absorb water from fluids. When those ADH levels drop, instead of taking water in, the body wants to push it out via a bodily function you should be familiar with,” Nadelson said.
“But after drinking a beer, not only does that full fluid volume pass right through the body, existing H20 gets drawn out along with it. One drink = twice the urine. That’s why an IV drip rehydrates on a level way beyond downing a before-bed desperation glass of water.”
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